Tag Archives: reading

plenty of librarians here – scope of work

4 Dec

Oh, yeah, I’m supposed to be thinking about librarians. Below is the scope of work for two credits of reading about labor, librarians, gender, information technology, tacit knowledge and the digital divide (among other related topics, as they surface).

What I Want to Know: (questions subject to change!)

  • What is the process by which the value of a person’s labor is determined?
  • Through what means do workers represent themselves to capital and to one another? How do historians represent workers from the past in a responsible manner, and to what end is this done?
  • What is the nature of group consciousness or class consciousness among women workers, if such concepts exist? How has this changed over time?
  • I want to know more about the origins and development of librarianship in Europe and North America. How did it become a gendered profession?
  • What do librarians do? (I think that this is a much more complicated question than it appears to be.) How are their performances measured?
  • What processes make technology scary, special, mysterious, or otherwise contribute to the fact that we can all be somewhat idiotic in our compensation systems for people who work with technology? How has technological prowess been gendered male and what is the reality of the “digital divide?” What exactly does that mean, anyway?

Keeping Track

Each week, I will write 500 words on this very blog about what I’m reading, what I think about it, and how it relates to my central questions. Depending on how my counterpart project goes, this may all end up as a kick-ass lit review for an article about these subjects.


I will choose, in consultation with the project adviser, the first six weeks of readings in early January. We will choose the readings for the final eight weeks after project trajectories emerge.

Possible themes and readings include:

Weeks 1-2 Labor 101 – Revisiting Favorites and Stuff I’ve been Meaning to Read

Here I want to get at a sense of the genealogy of labor history, what historians of labor worry about, and what kinds of methods have been used to understand workers in the past.

  • Selections from Marx (Das Kapital), Hobsbawm, Scott (“The Sears Case” and “A Statistical Representation of Work: La Statistique de l’industrie a Paris, 1847-1848” in Gender and the Politics of History), Thompson
  • Geoff Eley. “Labor History, Social History, ‘Alltagsgeschichte’: Experience, Culture, and the Politics of the Everyday–a New Direction for German Social History?” Journal of Modern History 61 (June 1989): 297-343.
  • Alf Lüdtke, “What Happened to the ‘Fiery Red Glow’?” in The History of Everyday Life
  • others

Weeks 3-4 Gendered Workers Today

  • Robin Leidner, “Serving Hamburgers and Selling Insurance: Gender, Work and Identity in Interactive Service Jobs” Gender and Society 1991
  • Christine L. Williams, “The Glass escalator: Hidden Advantages for Men in the ‘Female’ Professions” Social Problems 1992
  • Joan Acker “Hierarchies, Jobs, and Bodies: A Theory of Gendered Organizations,” Gender and Society, Vol. 4 No. 2, June. pp. 139-158.
  • Annette Barnardt, Matina Morris, and Mark S. Handcock . “Women’s Gains or Men’s Losses? A Closer Look at the Gender Gap in Earnings,” American Journal of Sociology 101, pp. 302-328.
  • Nancy Maclean, “The Hidden History of Affirmative Action: Working Women’s Struggles in the 1970s and the Gender of Class” in Feminist Studies 25(1), 1999: 43-78.
  • Alice Kessler-Harris, In Pursuit of Equality: Women, Men, and the Quest for Economic Citizenship in 20th Century America, Oxford University Press, 2001.
  • others

Week 5 The Technology Problem

I have almost no familiarity with the literature in this area, so I’m going to have to count on my project mentor for suggestions. I’m mostly interested in problems of how technology becomes gendered and the related process of how it becomes reified (dare I say fetishized?)

Week 6 The Rewards Systems

Here’s where we get into the interesting stuff – not just compensation, but the systems by which compensation is measured, the place of tacit knowledge, the gendered structures/roots of rewards systems, etc.